Saturday, 4 January 2014

Big Lobster Weeked: Why customer service is so important

Hello Princesses!

I wanted to share a small haul from last year which I always think about as my Big Lobster Weekend! I can't find a Hey Big Lobster gif, (Parody of Hey Big Spender) so sassy Zoidberg will have to do!

A lot of people ask me how I can afford so much makeup and skincare, and honestly; it's all to do with working hard, saving and not spending on other frivolous things. It does help that I don't have children, don't smoke, don't drink or have expensive hobbies (other than beauty of course!) and I plan my purchases very carefully, a lot of them are second hand, on sale, or I buy from sites that have very low prices but very long shipping times.

My Big Lobster Weekend happens after each school term (if I haven't blown my budget), where I take my "spending" money and go spend it! This time I took my little sister up to Auckland with me to visit some of the more "high end" cosmetic stores that we didn't have in Hamilton, such as Mac, Bobbi Brown, Benefit etc.

We had an awesome time, but the trip definitely highlighted some rather exceptionally good, and bad customer service. We spent a lot of time at the Onehunga Dressmart, and Smith and Caugheys in the city as well as eating Sal's pizza and Moustache Milk and Cookies. Mmmm!
It doesn't really look like I bought much, but the items I did buy were really high quality and I needed to pay for the petrol, food, parking etc as well.
First up is POREfessional from Benefit. This little box included mini sizes of "that gal" and It's Potent! Eye cream, for the same price as POREfessional alone. The Benefit girls also threw in a tester of Stay Flawless for me to try because we had talked about the differences between the two primers.
My next purchases were from Bobbi Brown. This was my first time at a Bobbi Brown store and I was absolutely shocked at how pale their foundations go, as well as the fact that they are all mostly warm / yellow based! *cries thankfully* I purchased a Long-Wear Even Finish Compact Foundation in 00 Alabaster and the Long Wear Cream Shadow in Bone.
As usual for me, I went around all of the stalls asking for testers of their palest warm toned foundation. I almost never buy foundation before taking testers home because they almost always turn out too dark! With Dior I didn't even have to ask, they were handing these little booklets out! The little empty looking glass jar in the middle is from Lancôme.

At the end of the day we popped into Daiso (love this store!!) and I found these super cute night gloves and makeup holders! The makeup holders are great for liquid liners that need to be stored tip down and mascaras that roll around.
This brings me to the talky part of this post. Customer service, and why it's so absolutely important. I've been in Food Service and Retail for 4 years so I know what it's like to be on that side of the bar, but I also know what it's like to be a customer. If you haven't worked in the Fast Food business, for minimum wage, with no breaks in an 10 hour day, serving over 400 people an hour, then I have absolutely NO sympathy for your bad customer service.

That shopping day I received some of the best, and worst customer service in my life so far. It's definitely not so absolutely disgusting that it's the worst thing you've ever heard, but I was NOT happy with it. This is one persons opinion at one point in time, so don't be too offended, I'm sure they're all lovely people really ^^

Let's start with the people that exceeded my expectations!


I walked into their little stall and tinkered with the primers for a couple of minutes before I was approached by a friendly young lady. I told her what I was after, which was POREfessional and also that I wanted to know what she would recommend for me between POREfessional and the 15hour primer. She offered to take off some of my makeup so I could try the primers and I politely declined, because I knew that Benefit doesn't have a foundation pale enough for me. I asked instead if she would trial it on my baby sister (who has perfect skin and only wears tinted moisturizer. SO UNFAIR) The lovely Benefit lady proceeded to apply the primer and a foundation to my sisters face. My sister was looking for a brow-kit and something to cover her wicked dark circles, so the Benefit lady had something to help with that too. She also finished off her makeup with Bronzer, Blusher, Highlighter, Eye Shadows, Eye Liner, Mascara and Lipstick. She didn't have to use those products because we weren't interested in them, but she did, and it really turned my sisters opinion on high  end makeup. She says that her skin has never looked, and felt better. Now she's saving up for a huge Benefit splurge next time. 

The Benefit lady told me that I could buy POREfessional in the tester box (still a full sized POREfessional) for the same price as the normal POREfessional, so that's what I did! I'm so glad she told me to get the testers too because I quite like "that girl"! All in all, she was really friendly, professional, and helpful, without pushing excess products that we weren't interested in on us. 

Estée Lauder

I've heard some girls having really bad experiences with Estée Lauder, but mine was great! A young lady came to help me and I told her that I was looking for the palest, warm toned foundation that they had. She did a quick colour test on the side of my face and offered me two tester pots of foundation she thought would be suitable. The tester pots were full to the brim with product and labeled. Estée Lauder also called me a week later to ask how the testers were going, which is so thoughtful! The Estée Lauder lady was very friendly, professional and actually quite quick in picking the foundations that would be most suitable for me!

Bobbi Brown

This is the most exceptional customer service I've ever had, (bar one absolutely lovely Clinque lady that became my personal foundation finding assistant). A lovely young lady approached me and asked if she could help. I quickly explained that I was looking for a pale, warm toned foundation and she took me up to one of the chairs to do a little patch test on the side of my face. We looked at the colours, and one of them (00 Alabaster, yeah that's right, I'm paler than 0 hehe) looked like a good match, so I agreed that she could take off one side of my makeup to try the foundation (one side had already been butchered anyway so why not), and it was beautiful. I was so absolutely happy with the colour that I wanted it straight away (even though it was super expensive O_o) 

I also for a product that would stop my eyelids from creasing so bad, and I was set up with the Long Wearing Eyeshadow in Bone, which is pale enough to match my face! The Bobbi Brown girl was SO helpful in finding me a good fitting pale foundation, we talked about Korean BB Creams, and she even analyzed my skin and told me that instead of having oily skin like I'd always assumed, I actually had very dry cheeks, so it's more combination skin. She didn't tell me that I should "get a tan" or that I needed darker foundation, she actually listened to what I wanted, not what she thought I wanted. She was super duper friendly, very professional and I left the Bobbi Brown stall with very light pockets, but a happy little heart.

Now for the, not so great customer service. :c


This is probably the only time I've had bad customer service from MAC. I wanted to know what type of NC foundation would be the palest and most suitable for me (studio fix, studio sculpt etc) and the girl didn't really know, and didn't really care. She initially offered me NC25, which is just way off, and when I asked how many testers I could have, she of rolled her eyes and went to check. Apparently I can have three. Which three would be best for me? She didn't know. Ok. When she came back with the three testeres there was not enough product in each tester to do one face of makeup.


I was, as always, looking for the palest foundation, and the Lancôme lady assured me that she had one pale enough, easy peasy! She took a small corner of makeup off to test her first sample, and found that it was just way too dark. She took slightly more off, and, oh that's too dark too. This happened again, and again until I was left only half face of makeup, and she STILL couldn't match me. I ended up with a super lightly applied BB Cream, that almost matched my skintone. She also gave me the smallest most pathetic little tester I've EVER seen (It's in the clear bottle in the pictures). I'm sure she meant well, but the whole experience for me was quite awful. I did tell her that I was very pale and very very hard to match, but she made me feel quite silly, and assured me that she wouldn't let me leave the stall until my face matched. I spent about 45 minutes trying on foundations, much to the annoyance of my sister and other shoppers waiting. *cringe*


"It's Chanel darling" pretty much sums this one up. The Chanel lady assumed that either I was someone that either couldn't afford Chanel, or someone who didn't look like they should be buying Chanel, and made me feel like a grubby street urchin.When I asked for their palest, warm toned foundation, she asked me why I thought I needed a warm toned foundation. Um, because I'm quite yellow in colour. She then asked me what foundation I normally used, and I told her I liked Korean BB Creams, because they were lighter than Western BB Creams. "Oh no darling, you cannot wear Asian cosmetics! They are made for Asian skin and you are Caucasian!" UH ok, I didn't know Caucasians are banned from wearing Asian cosmetics. Chanel's foundations do not go very light and they do NOT do tester pots. "Oh no darling, Chanel does not do testers, it's terribly unhygienic! We have samples, but not in your colour".

The Chanel lady was unhelpful, rude, slightly racist (weird for me to experience) and totally disdainful of me because she probably assumed that I couldn't afford Chanel, or I wasn't aware of how great Chanel was or something like that. She did show me to the La Prairie counter and told me to "save up" to buy nice makeup. Thank you, Chanel lady, for the advice.

I don't actually enjoy being negative, but I find it very interesting to talk about this subject with other beauty guru's and Makeup Obsessives. Customer Service is SO important, because you never know who people are, or what they're capable of! They might bad mouth you online, or in person, so just be careful about how you treat the people that you think are inferior to you. It doesn't take too much effort not to be rude, racist or disdainful, trust me, I know.

Have you princesses ever had exceptionally bad, or exceptionally good customer service?


  1. To be fair, I think the customer service for beauty counters vary every day - I had the best lady serving me at Lancome and gave me a super full tester (i didnt even realize there was foundation in your sample bottle!! :S ), crappy service at MAC and not so amazing service at Estee Lauder. Sucks to hear that the Chanel SA was so rude to you >< I never go near it when I go to Smith and Caughes because I can see their judgey faces a mile away. Hopefully the odd bad experience hasn't put you off coming up to Auckland more!

    1. Oh it can definitely be different every day depending on people, moods, extreme circumstances etc, but I mean there must be some limit! :S

      I'll definitely be coming back to shop in Auckland ;) Hamilton doesn't have a Benefit counter (or the palest Bobbi Brown shades) yet! I also cannot stay away from Onehunga dressmart! ♥ Love that place!

  2. I'm sorry to hear that you had negative experiences during your shopping trip, but I am also very thankful that you were so honest! I think that it is important for everyone to know what customer service is like in each store.
    Personally, there is a reason why I don't own any Channel cosmetics, and it's not the price. I had almost the exact same experience as you did in a Channel store and I never went back again. Excuse them!

    This was a great blog post to read! Thank you! ^_^

    1. Thank you so much! ^^ It's nice to know that I'm not the only one that the Chanel counter treats badly ><

  3. I hate those kind of staff, people working at chanel are the same level of the people working at the market near my house. They're not Chanel, they only work for them and they shall serve every customer in the same way. Btw lovely shopping!

    1. Thank you sweetie! ^^ Yeah it seems like there's a theme with the bad mannered Chanel staff :/

  4. Oh my gosh, your customer service experience are all things I can relate to. >...> It's nice that the lady at Bobby Brown didn't comment that you need a tan though. Those are opinions that people should keep to themselves. I have had the same kind of experience at MAC where I live too, but I cannot even imagine why they would start you out at NC25. It's pretty obvious you are not even close to 20 O...O I'm half Filipino and I'm NC20-25. If it took some of those people that long to figure out your skin tone I have to wonder if they need to get their eyes checked. You are very obviously pale and warm toned! What the heck! But I cannot believe someone would tell you that you can't use Asian cosmetics. So what if they were formulated with an Asian customer in mind--it doesn't mean they are only for Asians! It just means that the colors are going to be picked for warmer skin tones in general and geared towards oily skin more often than not. I would submit a complaint if I were you...that kind of attitude is not okay, and it sounds like she treated you very rudely. I have also encountered that non-chalant type "I don't want to help you because you look poor" attitude in high end department stores before, and I remember vividly filling out a 5 page complaint card on a whole group of employees at Nordstrom's flagship (first store ever) store--they didn't want to help me probably because they assumed I was poor and instead decided to discuss where they would be drinking even after I asked for help finding a specific shoe in a specific size. One of my friends works for YSL and he says they do select employees based on looks that are "right" for YSL, so it's very possible these high end brands also treat customers equally snobbishly. It's completely wrong. You'd think they WANT your money, right? I'm glad i am not the only one who has had these kind of experiences before.

    1. Omgosh I'm so glad I'm not alone with this! >< I was tentative about making this post because I thought it might be construed as me just being mean to the employees, but it seems like so many other people have been treated in this manner in high-end stores before! I did consider filling out a complaint form, but I'd heard much worse stories (including a girl being told to "get out if you're not buying anything" from an Estee Lauder counter) and didn't want to make a fuss. :S

  5. I'm glad you had fun and that you had some amazing customer service! But that Chanel one? Holy crap!

    That's not just racist, but she was extremely rude to you and she seemed she wanted to get "the riff raff" out of the store as it's not the so-called image. This is why I don't like even walking around in stores like these. :( Even if you weren't going to buy it, it's not like we're banned from the stores just because we have lower income... *hugs*

    I've been in customer service (retail, as well) for 10 years myself and, sure, I make mistakes here and there but I always and I mean I ALWAYS try to figure out what's best for my customers' wants and needs. That lady at Chanel should feel ashamed of herself!

    1. I know right!! You can totally get annoyed at picky customers in retail, or just be having a bad day, but the Chanel lady was just totally over the line. Especially since all I was asking for was to look at the palest foundation! I think I spoke to her for a total of 5 minutes before she waved me off and told me to go and save my money up. ><

  6. I don't know why but when I was reading this, I felt sort of pissed off and angry? Maybe it's just me HAHAHA. But yeah, customer service can honestly make or break my day. If a shop assistant is super helpful and nice, I'll spend the rest of the day on Cloud 9, feeling satisfied about how I was treated and everything. But on the other hand, if a SA was rude to me, I'd feel super angry and pissed off until I forgot about it. Like that Chanel lady... I mean, really? Super rude by the sounds of it. Saying you can't wear Asian cosmetics cause you have Caucasian skin is a little over the line, especially when you told her it suited you better. *Sigh* But it's great to hear your customer service story with Benefit and Bobbi Brown! Now that's what you call good service. I liked Benefit before but after hearing this, I like them even more.

    1. That's totally true! Customer service can make or break peoples purchases (and in that, the SA make money off our purchase too), so I wonder why they don't try a little harder to be nice sometimes -.-

  7. Oh wow, I can absolutely relate when it comes to varying experiences with the customer service at high-end make-up counters. I've had two very different encounters with the sales associates at Dior, both of them in the UK.
    Now, I'm not an easy customer, mainly because I like to walk into a store and know exactly what I'm after. Moreover, I make it clear from the very start of my conversations with SA's - I tend to be precise, concise and meticulous in assessing whether a given product is something I would consider further or not (usually I can tell straight away). I know that this is not the kind of client that these assistants are used to - there seems to be a misconception that if you shop at high-end brands, you're supposed to mindlessly look for ways to spend your money on things you won't necessarily use, just because it's the latest collection. I'm very polite, but this doesn't mean I'm a pushover - I promptly cut off any attempts to demonstrate/sell/otherwise present products which are hardly of my interest, especially if I'm pressed for time.
    Now, I'm also very young (just entered my 20s), and petite, which means that I don't look my age, especially when not wearing any make-up. I have no problem with that, and I assume customer service shouldn't either, but on numerous occasions I've experienced patonizing treatment from sales assistants who, apparently, must have thought that I was too young to shop their brand, or must have given them the impression of someone who couldn't afford their products.
    One of such occasions was, as I've mentioned, at a Dior counter, when I was doing some pre-Christmas shopping for my Mom and myself. When I asked the SA to show me an eyeshadow palette suitable for a fair-skinned, mature, pink-undertoned blonde with blue eyes (Mom), and another that would suit someone younger with a more golden-undertone, pale complexion and green eyes (me), she just looked at me and went "honey, are you sure you've got that much money to spare on eyeshadow?". At this point I considered turning around and walking towards another counter, but I've decided against it (the Christmas collection was really lovely that year), and answered, "I believe this shouldn't be a concern of yours, unlike answering the question I've asked - but if this causes you so much inconvenience, I'm sure the lovely ladies at Tom Ford will be glad to help me out." She was lost for words, but eventually apologised after a moment of awkward silence. I've been offered decent service and walked away with two of the best Dior quints I've ever purchased (I use mine to this day, and my Mom is delighted with hers). Nonetheless I can't think of that experience as positive.
    Another time, also at Dior, I've been given something I would describe as a "star treatment" - a very nice make-up artist has given me a personalized make-up lesson, written down all the products that would be suitable for my skintone, lifestyle and personality, and given me samples from that list as well. The entire consultation has lasted a good hour, and she seemed to genuinely care about me as a customer. She was also unbiased, and has pointed out items from other brands which would also suit my preferences. I walked away wearing professionally done make-up (thank goodness the brushes were sterile - no break-outs!) which lasted me the entire day, and knowing what I will be coming back for. So it all really depends on who you get, I guess...but as I said, I can totally relate.
    Personally, I believe we shouldn't be judged based on our appearance, and brands of this caliber should understand that, in principle, all customers deserve equal treatment.


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